It’s no secret that I’m not exactly petite. Whether I’m walking down the street or going for a run, I get the looks and hear the whispers. I think it’s funny how people try to hide their comments. Like, honey, out of everyone, I’m the most aware that I’m big, it’s okay, you don’t have to keep it a secret, everyone knows. I love cooking, food is my love language for other people and it of course falls on to how I show love for myself as well. But one thing that people wouldn’t think about me is that I also love being at the gym. Working out is my therapy. Exercise is my drug. It’s my answer to everything. Feeling tired? Go to the gym. Mad at someone and I need to cool down before I say something I might regret? Go to the gym. Anxiety? Gym. Depression? Gym. Bad test grade? Make an office hours appointment with my professor… then go to the gym. Ever since moving out and going to college, I have found working out to be the best way to get out my stresses when I feel like I have no one to talk to. And now that I’m cooking all my own meals, I’m actually losing weight. But, sometimes the gym isn’t always perfect.
Lately, I’ve noticed myself avoiding my apartment’s gym facilities during active times. If I walk past and see more than 2 people in there, I turn around and try again the next day. Sometimes I’ll get myself up at 4 am because I know that I’ve avoided the gym for a few days and I need to go. Why do I do this? It’s supposed to be my happy destress time. I have the same right to be in there as much as anyone else. But I don’t think that’s clear to the other people I’m trying to share the space with. It’s not the best feeling when I walk into a gym and am met with stares mixed with disgust or I watch the exchange of glances between people working out together followed by smirks. I feel gripped with anxiety when I want to use the barbell that is in the middle of the room in front of a large mirror. I feel like an annoyance when I do my interval training on the treadmill. Forcing myself into the gym when there are a lot of other people in it is more taxing physically and emotionally than the actual workout itself. I feel as though others think I don’t belong. It sucks. Because I’m putting in the work to be stronger. I’m there to better myself, just like they are. But because my body looks different, because my metabolism isn’t as fast as some people, I’m just not right for the gym. What’s worse, to me, is the thought that there are other plus sized people out there who don’t take that step. There are people like me who let their fear of other peoples’ opinions take away from what they want to do. There are times where I want to hide away from the eyes of my more fit peers, but I know if I do, then the judgers don’t learn. They won’t get used to sharing the gym with big people. People who are there for the same reasons they are.
My best advice to people who for whatever reason may be too scared to take those steps to go to the gym? GO. Make a playlist of your favorite music, blast it, and go. If working out is what makes you happy, then go be happy. Rub your happiness in other peoples’ faces, but subtly. You are there for you and not anyone else. Because those who judge someone for working out probably are also insecure about being in that space as well. But instead of them choosing to coexist while living THEIR best gym life, they choose to find insecurity in others in order to feel better than other people. Don’t be like them. Go, work out, be you, love you, and live YOUR best gym life.